interview with Pix business head Sunder Aaron|
growth has upset the balance in the English movie genre'
on 24 October 2011|
English movie channel space has seen a shake-up. The power centre has been upset
with the growth of Pix and the onslaught of new entrant Movies Now. From being
a two-horse race, now there are four Star Movies, HBO, Movies Now and Pix.
acquired the library of its parent Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pix is making
a bigger push in a market that is getting more competitive.
In an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Ashwin Pinto, Pix business
head Sunder Aaron talks about the rise of the channel, the challenges the genre
faces and the opportunities to grow the market.
What have been the focus areas of Pix this year?
capture moré and more good content, given the competitive nature of the market;
to ensure that the channel is distributed on the right networks and in the right
position; and to create an environment for viewer stickiness.
How far has Pix gained from the output deal with parent Sony Pictures Entertainment?
perception about Pix among viewers and advertisers has changed as we have moved
from a library to a contemporary movie channel. It is easier to change attitudes
and perceptions of younger audiences as they do not have an inherent commitment
to another channel like HBO or Star Movies.
Among our target audience, we have beaten HBO since January. The aim is to become
No. 1 eventually. We will continue to focus on getting the right content and building
Could you talk about how Pix has evolved since launching five years back?
has really evolved since we launched the channel with library content. The channel
went through a massive packaging overhaul in May-end. Our promos look a lot more
younger. We are playing bugs; we also give trivia information for some of our
What are the changes you have brought on the programming front?
the first ones to create a single ad break movie slot. We also realised that the
afternoons and late nights are the non primetime hours where the viewership is
audiences come in during the 12:30 pm-4 pm time band. Our programming is geared
towards addressing that audience who are mainly college going.
In the last few weeks, two new things have happened. One is 'Awesome Saturdays'
where we have lined up the evening with popular movies. And on Sundays we focus
on the 12 pm-4 pm time slot with an initiative called 'Sunday Breakout'. This
is how we are pushing the weekends.
are doing the Dynamite Diwali festival, which takes place on weeknights at 11
pm. In November, we will have an even bigger stunt. It will probably be called
‘Big Guns of Hollywood’.
perception about Pix among viewers and advertisers has changed as we moved from
a library to a contemporary movie channel. The output deal with Sony Pictures
Entertainment has helped in this'
What about thematic blocks?
had started this when we launched five years back, but have moved away from this
as we evolved. When your channel does not have a strong identity or presence,
you need to build points which can draw in viewers. However, we continue to do
Pix launched, it skewed towards 25+ audiences. Now where do they come from?
We focus on 15-34 SEC A,B, across six metros. But from a programming perspective,
we are inclusive in nature. Older viewers also watch us. We continue with properties
like 'Hand Picked'which consist of movies that have a strong drama quotient.
this genre seeing more of appointment viewing than say two years back?
is that it is not there. When HBO had groundbreaking series like 'Sex And The
City', this was there. Also, when Star Movies had ‘Avatar’ people probably made
a point to come in, but they have shown it 30 or 40 times. So you don’t have to
make an appointment to view it. I don’t think that it is possible to build it
People watch movies in different ways - DVDs, online, on their ipad. So why would
you have to make an appointment at 9 pm to sit in front of a channel to watch
a film? I don’t think that channels compete on this basis anymore. Competition
is on the basis of content, perception and profile.
but this is the case across television and is not something specific to the English
movie genre. There is more programme than channel loyalty. There is a residual
brand presence in the consumers mind at the same time.
Has the market
dynamics for the genre changed dramatically?
and Star Movies were the leaders. Pix has grown, which has obviously upset the
balance. Then Movies Now came in and upset the balance even more.
Now has made an impact by focussing on popular films. Does that mean that premieres
have lost a bit of their value?
think that Movies Now has been clever and there have been elements to their success.
One is that they selected films that are widely known and recognizable. Another
big factor is that they got the distribution right; they invested a lot in positioning
themselves properly. The third factor is that you cannot underestimate the value
of the Times support.
I wouldn't say that it diminishes the value of premieres. It does show that Indian
audiences still have an appetite for movies that are familiar to them. But when
Pix showed 'The Karate Kid', it was a premiere and propelled us to the No. 1 spot.
Is there going
to be more focus on original shows like ‘Gateway’?
But there is a challenge as it is costly. We are talking to sponsors about bringing
back ‘Gateway’ in a different form that will be even more exciting.
Currently, we do specials from time to time. ‘Chicks on Flicks’ does
things on premieres. We will do new series in a couple of months.
How is the deal with the NBA working out?|
is working out well. The big challenge, though, is that the NBA is in a lockout;
they have not started the season. The players’ union has not come to an
agreement with the owners to start the season. The season will get delayed.
you looking at more sports properties to build reach?|
are careful. The NBA is enough; if we put more, it will look like a sports channel.
are you pushing distribution?
are attempting to go beyond the six metros. DTH has shown how we are consumed
in other markets as well. We are looking forward to cable digitisation.
I don't want to rely so much on ad revenue. But we don't get our due in terms
of subscription income. Carriage fees rise every year while subscription revenue
is not keeping pace with it.
the different mediums, how is your spend split?
is defined by the film and not by the city or medium. Flexibility is needed in
planning. For instance, if we use radio this month, then next month we may or
may not use it at all.
would say that online is a very effective medium. It is highly flexible.
you give me a couple of examples of innovative campaigns that have been done this
We did the 'Hollywood is Here' campaign where we used clustered
outdoor. In Chowpatty (in Mumbai), we took six to seven hoardings together. In
Delhi, we used a cluster of 10 mobile vans standing in one line. We showcased
our positioning and the new titles that were coming up.
For 'The Social Network', we could not use Facebook as a medium. So we used radio
and hoardings. People knew Mark Zuckerberg but not the film’s star Jesse Eisenberg.
The thought for the campaign was the sexiest man alive; this created an intrigue.
are you growing consumer contact initiatives like the Pix Movie Club?|
have touched 10,000 members. We are in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and we want
to take it further down next year. We haven't decided on whether or not to rope
in advertisers for this.
you looking at more marketing initiatives?|
are looking at doing something online. We are working on the details. For me,
online marketing is about an idea and not just taking out a bunch of banners across
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